A Natural Diet for Struvite Crystals and Furball’s Visit to the Holistic Vet

Furball was vomiting on and off for the past week so we took him to see Dr. Sara Skiwski, a holistic medicine veterinarian.  As a Holistic Veterinarian, Dr. Skiwski (aka Dr. Sara), is not only a licensed veterinarian, she also studied veterinary acupuncture and herbs.  I had been wanting to take Furball to see a holistic vet to discuss what would be the best diet for him given that he has struvite crystals and also had a bout of pancreatitis about two years ago.

I was becoming increasingly dissatisfied with his current diet of 1/2 Pinnacle dry cat food and 1/2 IAMS prescription diet for struvite crystals.  Let me clarify that I love the Pinnacle brand of cat food, but my concerns are about the IAMs food.  I discovered on Day 21 of my new year’s resolution of the 30-Day Green Cat Challenge that IAMs was owned by Proctor and Gamble, a company I had boycotted for over a decade because of ethical concerns about how they run their business.  Plus, I had noticed that Furball’s coat went dull when he was fed a 100% diet of the prescription diet for struvite crystals.

However, when I researched natural methods for dealing with struvite crystals as well as organic foods, I was overwhelmed by how complicated it was to find a natural diet for struvite crystals.  I decided the best thing to do was to consult with a holistic vet.  Furball was probably sending me a hint to go sooner rather than later as he started hacking up hairballs and gooey spit-up about two weeks ago.  His appetite also decreased, which is highly unusual for the cat who loves to eat anything and everything and he was a bit cranky too.  I was going to take him to see his regular vet, but the cat’s vomiting seemed to stabilize and then taper off.

The appointment with the holistic vet was a week away.  I booked the appointment, then cancelled it when Furball got better.  Then, Furball promptly vomited up some more gooey spit, so I rebooked the appointment.  At that point, I decided regardless of whether he was better or worse, I’d take Furball in for a check-up.  I’m glad we kept the appointment.

Furball’s fine.  However, I gained some valuable insights into how struvite crystals, pancreatitis and vomiting/gastrointestinal issues are related to diet.  Dr. Sara also gave us a recommended list of natural cat foods that would be beneficial for our cat.  The list is like gold to me because I didn’t know where to start.  I’m going to research each product over the next few weeks and post my findings.

In the meantime, here’s a summary of what I learned.  PLEASE DO NOT TRY TO SELF-MEDICATE YOUR CAT BASED ON THIS INFORMATION OR CHANGE YOUR CAT’S DIET WITHOUT CONSULTING WITH YOUR VET FIRST.  I may have misheard what Dr. Sara said or misunderstood it or remembered it incorrectly.  I’m also paraphrasing and adding my own opinion.  The information is provided only as a starting point for your own research into natural diets for struvite crystals and pancreatits.  You should always SEE A LICENSED VETERINARIAN FIRST!

  1. What’s good for humans is NOT GOOD for cats.  People benefit from seeds and plant oils such as flaxseed oil.  However, these types of fats are not beneficial to cats because cats are carnivores.  Cats are completely carnivorous and would do just fine on a diet of only animal protein.  In fact, flaxseed oil could actually trigger pancreatitis because the cat’s pancreas is not designed to process this type of fat.
  2. Cats should not be eating carbohydrates.  This includes wheat, rice, corn, etc.  As mentioned above, cats are carnivores.  Carbohydrates have a higher pH level (lower acidity) which actually contributes to the formation of struvite crystals.  Dry foods are full of carbs.
  3. A higher acid diet (lower pH) helps to prevent the formation of struvite crystals.  What this means from a natural perspective, is that a higher protein diet will naturally result in a diet with a higher level of acidity.  Unfortunately, many commercial cat foods for managing struvite crystals raise the acidity level of their formulas by adding ammonium chloride to their products.  I don’t need to be a rocket scientist to know that ammonium chloride is not the same as animal protein.
  4. In general, canned food naturally has more moisture and animal protein than dry cat food.  While the label may say x amount of protein, this figure is determined by measuring what’s left over after the food is burned down to its basic composition.  There’s no distinction between animal protein and plant protein, or melamine for that matter.
  5. The moisture level and high animal protein in a quality canned food should be sufficient to help reduce struvite crystals.  Even though we add large amounts of water to Furball’s dry food, it’s not the same as him getting his fluid from wet food.  The water needs to soak into the dry food.  This is better than him drinking the water because cats naturally metabolize their water better through their intestines.  By drinking the water, the cat’s kidneys are forced to do most of the work.  This can lead to kidney issues later on in life.
  6. High heat rapid cooking alters the structure of the oils in food, making them not that healthy for your pet.  Slow-cooking at lower temperatures is better.  This is much like how olive oil is good for you unless you heat it at a high temperature.

Based on this information, we’re ready to start transitioning Furball very slowly to a diet of wet food only.  One other thing to note, the holistic vet said it was ok to give Furball the small amounts of grapeseed extract found in his PetzLife natural dental care product.  In fact, she was selling the product in her office.

Here’s the list of brands/foods that the holistic vet recommended:

There were a few other brands, but I couldn’t find them online (possibly renamed?).  The brands on this list are the ones that the holistic vet has experience with.  They’re all high animal protein with low or no grain content.  I’ll be researching them over the next few weeks to decide which to try.  Although, Furball’s finicky feline palate may be the determining factor ;).

Check Out Furball’s Cat Toy Book!
Furball loves to play and was so hyperactive as a kitten that I invented dozens of toys and games for him and even wrote a book about them.  The book features instructions for over 50 cat toys that are not only eco-friendly, but also can be made in minutes, if not seconds, from stuff you have around the home.

If you’ve ever bought a fancy cat toy and found your cat preferred the bag it came in, please check out Make Your Own Cat Toys.

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Green Little Cat is the only blog that's all about eco-friendly ideas for cats and cat lovers. This blog is a labor of love, created by Holly Tse, author of Make Your Own Cat Toys.
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